James 1:17- Every good thing given and ever perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”
I love celebrating Christmas. It is such a joyous time in my household. But as with all good things, there is the tendency to get caught up in the things of the world and before you know it, it becomes a holiday devoid of bringing glory to Christ. I want us to stop for a moment and renew our minds with the Scriptures that teach us why we should be so thankful during this season. How often do we caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday and neglect to think on these things? I pray the Lord will use these Scriptures to stir up within you a spirit of gratitude for all we have in Christ. Let’s examine some Scripture in regard to the gifts we have through Him.
The first area is the gift of The Savior and His Sacrifice.
“For since the law has but va shadow wof the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, xit can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But yin these sacrifices zthere is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For ait is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
c“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
you have taken no pleasure.
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’ ”
8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in csacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, d“Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will ewe have been sanctified through the offering of fthe body of Jesus Christ gonce for all.”
As this passage teaches us, it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to wash away all of our sins and put us in right standing with God. We had to have a perfect sacrifice, God in flesh, who lived a sinless life, as of a lamb without blemish or spot, to die in our place. He bore the wrath and punishment for ours sins. This Biblical concept is what we refer to as ”penal substitutionary atonement.” God either punishes the sins of the person in the body of that person or in the substitute. God, being a just God, couldn’t just pardon whoever He wanted without dealing with their sin. Sin had to be dealt with and God demands retribution. We all rightly deserve hell.
“Much more then, having now been justified [a]by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved [b]by His life. 11 And not only this, but [c]we also celebrate in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” Romans 5:9-11
The sacrifice of our savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came to die on our behalf, should leave us in a state of never ending praise!
The second area we should be thankful for is the gift of saving faith.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9”
As A.W. Pink says ”We are saved ”by” our faith, not ”for” our faith. We cannot muster up faith from our flesh or even the will to believe.
“So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” Romans 9:16
Because we are dead in sin, we must be brought to life by the Spirit and given the gift of faith. This requires no cooperation from our unregenerate nature and is not the picture often painted that teaches salvation is a gift and you just have to do your part and open it. This is dangerous since it teaches synergistic salvation; you do your part and God does His. Remember, dead men cannot do anything! Salvation is all of God and must seen that way so that He receives all the glory.
“being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus,” Romans 3:24
Charles Spurgeon once said ”If I have Christ and nothing else, I have everything.” If you have been given the gift of saving faith, you should thank God for it every chance you get. You should honor Him and show gratitude by living a holy life devoted to serving Him. We were enemies, outcasts, children of wrath, having darkened minds, alienated. But now He calls us friend, children of God, we have fellowship with him, brought into the light, given understanding, and we are justified before God. Hallelujah!
The third area is the gift of sanctification.
13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to [a]desire and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13
Paul tells us in Romans 7 that nothing good comes from our flesh. The ability to fight sin and perform righteous deeds are from the Spirit within us. To sanctify means to ”set apart.” From the time we are born again, until we die or the Lord returns, He is sanctifying us and making us more like Christ. We should be able to look back over the course of our lives and see a pattern of obedience and growth in the Scripture. We should be more like Christ than we were a year ago. When the Holy Spirit indwells a person, He does not save a person and leave them the same for 10, 20, 30 years with an elementary understanding of the Scripture. You should see growth in your understanding and character as the Lord sanctifies you. Sanctification is Monergistic and God will sanctify His own. If it was synergistic, we would have reason to boast for our good deeds. When someone compliments us for a good deed, we should reply with ”Not I, but Christ in me.”
The fourth and final area is the gift of security (or perseverance.)
As Voddie Baucham says ”If I could lose my salvation, I would.” If it were up to us to stay saved, we couldn’t do it. It is all of God, from start to finish. He is the author and perfecter of our faith as Hebrews tells us. Aren’t you thankful its not up to us to stay saved?! John Calvin in the Institutes of the Christian Religion says Adam in the book of Genesis was given all things, even intimacy with God, but He wasn’t given the gift of perseverance and that is why he fell. Once you a have been given the gift of faith, you are sealed by the Holy Spirit and kept by God. This is the doctrine known as the perseverance of the saints. You cannot lose justification and Christ’s righteousness is forever imputed to you. No man can snatch you away. Not one of God’s elect will be lost.
“For the gifts and pthe calling of God are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29
God does not take back His gift of faith and change His mind. We have security in that God will finish what He started. It wasn’t a decision that saved us, but God Almighty. What a great gift we have been given!
I hope this blog has been a brief reminder that has stirred up a spirit of gratefulness for all we have in Christ! And if you are reading this and you don’t know if you belong to Him, I pray the Holy Spirit draw you, grant you repentance, and give you saving faith. Cry out as the tax collector in Luke 18- “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner!”
Merry Christmas from my family to yours. May Christ be glorified!